By Ed McNamara
He came, he conquered, he left. Four days after dominating a Grade 3 stakes at a mile last Sept. 7 at Haydock Racecourse in northwest England, Great Scot was on his way to the Middle East.
“He was at Haydock Saturday, they called Sunday, vetted him Monday and he left Wednesday,” his former trainer, Tom Dascombe, told England’s Racing Post. “There was no messing about, and all I knew was he was bought by a Saudi trainer.”
His name is Abdullah Mishrif, who wanted Great Scot so he could run him in the world’s richest race. Hundreds of Kentucky Derby entrants have had no business being in a classic. Great Scot appears to fit that category in Saturday’s $20 million Saudi Cup.
The 4-year-old gelding has never tried 1 1/8 miles or competed on dirt, so this move is wildly ambitious. However, the second- through-10th-place horses will divide $10 million among them. Best-case scenario: Great Scot somehow manages to earn a minor share (but still, major bucks) without making any impact.
“He was great for us, and I’m disappointed to lose him,” Dascombe said, “but if he does well for anybody else, then it’s good for them. Apparently, the dirt track at (King Abdulaziz Racecourse) is like soft ground, which he loves. Even if he can finish third, it’s a lot of prize money.”
Trainer: Abdullah Mishrif
Owner: Empire State Racing Partnership
Career record: 11-4-1-2
Career earnings: $116,150
Pedigree: Requinto-La Rosiere, by Mr Greeley
Running style: Stalker
“He’s 3-for-3 at Haydock, a second-tier English track, but 1-for-8 elsewhere. He’s never been on dirt or won beyond a mile, so he’s totally overmatched.” – Ed McNamara
“Euro turfer has never run on dirt and is not really even a Grade 1 performer on the grass, either. Earned first Group win last out in the Superior Mile (G3) last September, and seems to be in entirely way too deep in this kind of spot.” – Noel Michaels
Notes: Dascombe said, “He just got very keen after his first race as a 3-year-old, and gelding him made the difference.” … Great Scot was second in his 3-year-old debut, the Grade 3 Greenham Stakes, and finished third in the German 2,000 Guineas, a Grade 2. He ran fifth and ninth last year in his only attempts in Group 1 company.